Monday, November 19, 2007

Another painful Sunday

I spent much of yesterday slogging away over a new editing job (so much for not working on the weekends!). This was supposed to be just a "sample", to prove I know what I'm doing - although (unusually!) they have promised to pay me for it.

In 5 years of wrangling this kind of crap, I think this was quite possibly the worst article I've ever seen. Not only was the English dismal and the logical structure almost non-existent, but it was so sloppily composed that there were numerous errors even in names and dates - I probably had to spend an extra half-hour on the Internet just doing rudimentary fact-checking.

And not only was re-writing this horrendous English like wading through treacle.... the content (when it was intelligible) was often downright offensive. It was a (supposedly) academic article on China's foreign policy in Southeast Asia - full of trite, self-deluding nonsense about how "everybody loves us - and you'd better keep your goddamn nose out of the Taiwan issue!"

Yep, it actually included a line about how all the other countries in the region were happy to maintain good relations with China because they accepted that its military posturing towards Taiwan was just and necessary. Rather than vice versa! Rather than being so desperate to suck up to China that they pay lip service to the so-called "One China" Policy, while feverishly praying that it doesn't lead to a war??

It really is quite terrifying how thoroughgoing the propaganda on this issue is here. When I was teaching in a University in Beijing a couple of years ago, I found that every student (that's every single student, in the 5 or 6 large classes I was teaching) unquestioningly accepted that an invasion of Taiwan was likely, and would be a jolly good thing. They seemed to be gleefully looking forward to such an event. (I was tempted to show them the first 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, to remind them what a seaborne invasion is really like.)

The last time there was a major outbreak of such menacing jingoism in the local media, I dashed off this bitter little 'joke' of a poem.

A Dangerous Hobby

If you rattle a sabre too often
Its scabbard may come loose
Fall from the belt, clatter to the ground

Finding a bare blade in your hand
You have little choice
But to strike first


Anonymous said...

"Never, never point your gun, be it anyone".

A somewhat random ditto I was taught as a child. I was made to say this as a caution while playing with plastic, wooden or pretend guns. Pointing a gun at someone was not acceptable even if it was two little fingers and a imaginary sight.

What a depressing and frustrating article. Lets hope very few people read it.

The British Cowboy said...

Also remember SPR was a film version of an invasion with overwhelming sea and air superiority.

Even without a carrier battle group in the area, that sure as hell would not be the case.

Froog said...

Yes, of course that's assuming they even get there. It is a mighty wide stretch of water.

But somehow, the image of being sunk half-way across seems a less visceral deterrent than that of being cut to ribbons on the beachhead.

The British Cowboy said...

Invasion - not going to happen, for the reasons stated above.

Blockade - far more interesting. R.C.'s dominance of chip production would make that a VERY dicey situation.

Froog said...

Yes, that - and as we were reminded by that earthquake a year or two ago - and they control the main trans-Pacific submarine telecommunications cabling into China.

The Chinese, though, are all gung-ho about the invasion idea - despite its obviously pointlessness and impracticality. Presumably it's just a ploy to get the military budget ramped up. The generals are a worryingly powerful lobby here. (Whereas - I get the impression, anyway - it's more the arms manufacturers that have the clout in Washington.)

Anonymous said...

"Never, never point your gun, be it AT anyone".

Ops, typos! Not much of a ditty if I can't type it correctly for you.

Thats ditty, NOT ditto. sigh.

They say miscommunication starts wars. I'm happy not to be the negotiator between Taiwan and the PRC.

"and they control the main trans-Pacific submarine telecommunications cabling into China."

Yes interesting, I remember thinking at the time how surprisingly vulnerable the cabling to China was. Is?

The British Cowboy said...

The PRC needs an external enemy. Reunification must always be a goal, but never actually achieved.

Anonymous said...

Every country/government needs an external enemy.

The British Cowboy said...

Especially certain types of government.

Froog said...

Yes, the USA has such a hugely bloated military budget to justify, it seems to be rotating its 'enemy' between:

1) China

2) Russia (still, just about)

3) Cuba (just for old times' sake)

4) The Axis of Evil

5) The whole of the Muslim world

6) Just about everybody else (aka 'the coalition of the unwilling)

The British Cowboy said...

I agree - the military-industrial complex does like an enemy.

The difference, I think, is that in the US the external enemy concept, while beneficial to certain elements, is a net loss to the system of government. It syphons off vast resources that could be more effectively used elsewhere.

Take the external enemy away, and the system in place would work better. The Stalinist/post-Stalinist USSR, on the other hand, needed the enemy for its very existence. Take that enemy away, and the internal inconsistencies in the system collapse upon themselves. It's why I think Reagan prolonged the cold war rather than winning it, for example.